Jennifer Briggs and the DrainWig


 

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The Drain Wig is a plastic flower cap attached to a stainless steel ball-chain fitted with rubber whiskers. The Drain Wig is simple and easy to install; just feed the chain through the shower drain (the flower lies flush on top of the drain cover) and wait 2-5 months. As hair enters the drain, it floats and spins on top of the water. The Drain Wig’s ball chain and rubber whiskers catch and secure the hair. The tangled hair remains on the chain and out of sight until you are ready to remove the clump of hair. The Drain Wig is easily extracted without touching the hair or removing the drain cover. Simply throw it away and replace it with a new Drain Wig — no plumber needed! I contacted Jennifer Briggs, the inventor of the Drain wig and asked her to answer the following questions:



How did the idea for the Drain Wig come to you?

Well, I’m a weirdo and I floss my teeth in the shower. Hey, at least I floss! Once, without my knowledge, two ends of a piece of dental floss went down different holes in the drain cover and started catching hair. One day I was showering and looked down to see a large brown hairy “something” dangling in my drain. I teased my husband and said a gofer was in the drain. He got out his tools, removed the drain cover, and pulled out a long piece of dental floss with a massive, disgusting, smelly, slimy wad of hair attached to it. We couldn’t believe it! As my husband and I experimented, we found that when we’d loose hair down the drain, it would float on top of the water, spin around like a washing machine and get tangled on the floss.

What made you act?

I’m a Mother of five beautiful daughters with long hair. Need I say more?
I acted out of necessity and my sanity! I was constantly dealing with clogged drains. I’ve used all the products on the market and none of them work very well. I don’t like putting chemicals down my drain and lets face it, who wants that stuff in their cupboards? The current preventative products on the market are still a pain because you have to see the collected hair on top of the drain and clean the hair off daily. Seeing and touching drain hair is gross! The Drain Wig makes catching hair and preventing clogs much easier and more hygienic.

How was the prototype process?

My husband works as commercial contractor. I used to call him to see why he wasn’t home and he would tell me he was at the local craft store. I would giggle at his creative finds. We sat around the kitchen table with our daughters putting their toys to use as prototypes. The rubber spikes on a toy ball worked great for the whiskers. My earrings gave me the inspiration to make the top cap beautiful and decorative (the drain is the only part of the house that women haven’t decorated, yet). The chain attached to the blinds in my husband’s office was the inspiration for the stainless steel ball chain used in our design.

We found a local business called RocketShip to helped us create the real prototypes and 3D drawings. It was expensive, but worth every penny. They’re familiar with tooling costs and the most cost effective way to manufacturer products.



How was the patent process?

The biggest leap of faith for us was taking the initial funds out of our savings account to pay for a national patent search and then a world patent search. It makes me cry just thinking about it! We are not a wealthy family, so that took courage. The process is long and tedious. Just reading the application hurt my brain. Wow! Patent Attorneys earn their money! I highly recommend you find a good one that has a relationship with the US Patent office. Our attorney is so good that he even came up with new ideas we hadn’t thought of yet.

How have you marketed it?

We attended the Home and Housewares Show in Chicago a couple years ago and I presented to a panel of women. A few of them happened to be with QVC. It was so exciting! They selected me to be part of a new program called QVC Sprouts. From there, I had the amazing opportunity to be on the TODAY Show introducing the QVC Sprouts program. I competed with five other amazing QVC Sprouts inventors in a contest and America voted us Best New Bright Idea. I sold on air at QVC a couple weeks later. Our sales were high enough that we became a regular QVC vendor and have been on air three more times since then.

 

We also attended the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and took every opportunity to showcase the DrainWig. My husband put me in a contest without my knowledge. He said it was no big deal; I just had to tell everyone how the DrainWig works. I’m not comfortable with public speaking, and when I noticed Duck Tape and Rubbermaid next to me, I started sweating. I was able to push through my fear because of the passion I have for my product. The next day, I received the 2013 Homewares Innovation Gold Award! My little product beat the big name products.

The Grommet

The Grommet launched our Internet sales. It is a great website for educating the public about a new product. Because of The Grommet, Drain Wig was selected to be included in the prestigious Academy Award Nominee Swag Bag. We didn’t even have to ask permission to be in it! We did have to pay a fee, but it was worth the investment. Because Drain Wig was included in the Oscar bag, an NPR radio show, as well as our local news station, interviewed me about the experience. National articles were written about Drain Wig because it was the most inexpensive item in the bag, which totaled over $80,000 worth of gifts. Drain Wig was also featured in a Real Simple Magazine article due to our exposure on The Grommet.

Mommy bloggers have helped us get the word out. There are some powerful mommy bloggers out there!

What were some the obstacles and how did you overcome them?

At first, money was a big obstacle. We borrowed money from my parents and my in-laws. We gave them small ownership in the company for investing with us. When that wasn’t enough money, we got another investor. He has been amazing to us! He lets us use his office and warehouse space for free. We’ve learned that you have to be willing to give up some ownership in the company to become successful. It’s impossible to do it on your own. We are so glad we did!

The second obstacle we’ve faced is not knowing how to get our product to market. We’d heard horror stories about the process but we tried to keep an open mind, listen to experts and ask a lot of questions. We’ve met so many nice people at the various trade shows who have given us lots of good advice and invited us to call if we ever had any questions. Reading good books about starting a business have also helped. For example, I highly recommend “Authentic Branding” by Howard Lim.

What advice do you have for those interested in inventing?

The best advice I can give is someone is to take the opportunities that come your way and don’t be afraid to be yourself and make mistakes. You don’t have to be perfect! People relate more to you when you don’t appear to be perfect. You become human to them. Also, having a great story behind your product helps. I always talk about how I am a stay at home mother of 5 daughters who came up with a great solution to a very common problem. People love a good story!

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Also, do your homework and make sure you have a product that differentiates itself from everything else in that category in the market. Have passion, and know that it takes a lot of work! Everyday feels like a rollercoaster ride with its ups and downs. Be tough, and know that not everyone is going to like your product. If they don’t like your product, that’s okay, it just means they’re not your customers. Go with your gut feelings and work with people you like.

For more information, please visit www.drainwig.com

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Jennifer Briggs and the DrainWig

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